The English still have a world-wide reputation for lacklustre cuisine. The reality, however, is quite different - London has become an international centre of gastronomic excellence.
The new wave of restaurants that has swept across the capital since the early eighties reflects the demands of a new, more sophisticated, and more affluent population. What was once an occasional treat, reserved for anniversaries, birthdays, and hot dates, has rapidly become a centre-piece of London's social life.
The style of food has also moved away from the conservative choices of the olden days - Italian, Chinese - or the dreaded traditional English! London has at last accepted its culinary responsibilities as an International Capital.
In response to these new demands there has been an explosion in excellent restaurants. These are places for the young and social - a world away from the conservatism of the old school establishments, and their cuisine reflect the eclectic nature of their clientele.
In my mind the Collection exemplifies the best of this new wave. The menu is an ecstatic composition of imaginative ingredients, drawing upon influences both traditional and exotic. The service is friendly, familiar, and wildy dressed - a welcome escape from the old school maître de. The atmosphere is one of excitement - the restaurant is positioned on a mezzanine above a happening bar.
This is the building that achieved architectural fame as Katherine Hamnet, and the spacious interior means that the eye can always feast on a wide vista of entertainment - I think it works much better as a restaurant than it did as a clothes shop.
Most of my friends will already know of my liking for this restaurant, as they will almost certainly have joined me for dinner on one of my sorties back to London. I won't therefore dwell on the marvels of seared tuna, or the feast of arrangements on exotic beds of vegetables - if you like good food then I'll just advise you to book a table.
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Tip for the girls - make sure you wear sexy knickers